Dinosaurs roamed the earth for nearly 150 million years, leaving us tantilising clues in the forms of fossils to try and piece together their world.
Dinosaurs have always been fascinating to humans, with extensive digs and studies unearthing species for hundreds of years, but what do you do when you find a dinosaur skeleton? Well, you have to name it and the naming of dinosaurs is as much of a science as the finding thing in the first place!
'Dinosaurs' are they really terrible lizards?
The word 'dinosaur' was coined by Sir Richard Owen an eminent biologist and comparative anatomist. An avid dinosaur reasercher, Owen worked with Benjamin Hawkins to produce the dinosaur skeletons that are now residents of Crystal Palace.
Dinosaur comes from two Greek words: Deinos (terrible - where we get the word dire from) + Sauros (lizard), so dinosaur = Terrible Lizard. This name reflects the contemporary scientific thought of the time, of dinosaurs as savage and scary creatures.
An Utahceratops illustration
The same components are found in modern dinosaur names as well, combining sometimes two or three components to make a longer name. This name can also tell a paleontologist details about which family group a specimen is from.
Ceratops is a group of dinosaurs meaning horn face. Paleontologists can then add another element to describe dinosaurs within this group: Triceratops means Three Horn Face (because it has three horns). The name of a dinosaur can also tell you were it was discovered, like Utahceratops which means Utah Horn Face (a horned dinosaur discovered in Utah, USA).
Tarbosaurus Bataar, a name with Greek and Mongolian elements
Sometimes dinoasur names switch languages which can be another way of describing the dinosaur and where it was discovered. A vast Tarbosaurus Bataar skeleton is on display in our new exhibition Dinosaurs: Monster Families, but the name of this specimen is slightly complex.
Tarbosaurus means Alarming or Startling Lizard (Ancient Greek) but Bataar is Mongolian for Hero or Warrior. So the full name of our terrifying skeleton is: Alarming Hero Lizard, not only is that a pretty cool name, but the use of Mongolian refers to the species' find location.
With such an array of excellent names to have, we guessed you would want to have a dinosaur name as well, so have made a Dinosaur Name Finder based on the specimens in our displays and exhibition.
Be sure to tweet us your results and we can tell you a dino fact!
Dinosaurs: Monster Families open this weekend, you can pre book tickets online and avoid the queue.